Sacramento Chapter Member: Matt Kawahara

Matt is a general assignment sportswriter for The Sacramento Bee. He got his start with The Bee in 2010 as AAJA-Sacramento’s first summer intern, and he is now a chapter board member.


Who do you look up to in the news industry as a role model?
I follow a lot of the beat writers for the major sports teams in Northern California and admire what they do. Beyond the print stories, you’re talking about keeping up your own blog, breaking news on Twitter during a coach’s pre-game press briefing and doing spots on talk radio. Those who churn out information with personality and impress you with insight — take The Bee’s Matt Barrows and his 49ers coverage — are great examples.

Why did you decide to become a journalist?
Simply, I started working for the college newspaper at Cal as a freshman and thought it was a blast. Sports have always interested me, and when I started writing about them in college it seemed like each team was a wealth of stories. Athletes are dealing with some universal stuff — success, failure, career mortality. And at the highest levels, they do so against the backdrop of professional sports being a huge industry. It’s really fascinating.

Why is media diversity important to you?
A newsroom that’s serving and representing a community should reflect the makeup of that community. The reporting benefits from different perspectives and experiences.

What do you love most about being Asian American?
I’m mixed-race (my mom is Caucasian). So on holidays when I was a kid, the two sides of the family would get together and my Japanese American grandfather would be sitting off talking with my Scandinavian American grandfather. That’s just how things were.

Are there any interesting facts about your past experiences and background?
When I interviewed for The Bee internship, the AAJA Sacramento chapter members were concerned that I didn’t have much experience in news reporting. They should have been concerned. I was concerned. I only wrote sports in college, and the internship was in business, metro and features. They took a chance and I ended up spending more than a year as a general assignment news and night cops reporter. I think that experience has been invaluable and a good reminder that there is still a lot to learn about this job.

Learn more about other AAJA members profiled for AAPI Month.